New trains are coming - now East Anglia's rail tracks need big boost
PUBLISHED: 15:09 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:09 11 July 2019
The new trains are arriving - now it's time to increase the pressure for more investment on the infrastructure. That was the message from the latest East Anglian rail Taskforce conference in Essex.
It heard about the need to expand the network to cope with increasing demand - the number of passengers has increased by 50% over the next year and projections expect a further 40-60% increase by 2033.
And it was told that new track is needed at three locations in Essex as well as new junctions at Bow near Liverpool Street and Haughley in Suffolk - together with a new double-track swing bridge at Trowse just outside Norwich station.
Officials from Greater Anglia, Network Rail, local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships came together with MPs lead by task force chair Priti Patel to press the case for more investment.
She said: "This was not just a catch-up, it discussed the strategy to develop the rail network as the government prepares to consider bids for major work over the next few months.
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"Hopefully by the time of our next meeting in the autumn we should know a bit more about the bidding process."
She added: "The Taskforce has been working hard on preparing the case for major government investment for the Great Eastern Main Line and today's conference has brought together key stakeholders to update them on our progress and seek their support to help build our case for investment.
"Our objective is to submit our business case to the Government later this year to secure vital funding through the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline process."
Jonathan Denby from Greater Anglia said there was a need for extra track to allow trains to pass between Shenfield and Chelmsford, between Chelmsford and Witham (possibly at a new station at Beaulieu Park), and at Marks Tey between Witham and Colchester.
This would increase capacity on the line by allowing trains to pass each other.
He said: "We've already achieved a great deal with the trains but this is a crucial time to in drawing up the bid for major infrastructure improvements.
"But this region will be bidding alongside other parts of the country so it is very important that a very strong case is made."